The Anteaters had been struggling offensively as of late, and something needed to change if they wanted to stay in the playoff race.
‘We took a lot of extra batting practice after the game last night and it really paid off,’ said Head Coach John Savage.
The ninth-ranked Anteaters put on a hitting clinic as they recorded 25 hits to beat the University of Pacific 16-5 on April 24 at Anteater Ballpark. The 25 hits are the most that the team has ever recorded in the three years under Savage.
After a disappointing loss to the Tigers (16-23, 1-7 Big West) the night before, the struggling Anteaters (25-11-1, 3-5) appeared to be still stuck in their slump, going down 4-1 in the second inning under junior pitcher Glenn Swanson. Swanson had a rough start, being replaced by sophomore pitcher Chris Nicoll after just 1.2 innings and giving up four earned runs.
‘The bullpens were the difference in this game,’ Savage said.
And the battle of the bullpens was one that was completely taken over by UCI. Nicoll was nearly flawless, giving up just four hits and one run in 6.1 innings.
The Tigers, however, seemed to be pitching batting practice for the Anteaters. The UCI batting statistics looked like that of a tee-ball game, with every Anteater getting at least one hit and four Anteaters with four hits or more.
In a game with numerous offensive heroes, the story of the game was without a doubt junior outfielder Andy Amara. For someone who rarely plays, let alone starts, Amara more than took advantage of his opportunity going a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate. His three singles, double and triple set the pace for UCI and three of these hits came after he dislocated his finger while sliding into third base.
‘Andy’s performance can be looked at in two ways. Either we’re geniuses for playing him today or we’re idiots for not having played him sooner. I mean talk about a guy being ready for his opportunity,’ Savage said.
Amara was obviously very happy with his performance but stayed surprisingly humble for a player who had as many hits today as he had in his entire college career going into the game.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever had five hits in a game before. I mean I had a good game but it’s only one game. It’s never about the individual,’ Amara said.
Three other Anteaters had four hits in the game: sophomore third baseman Matt Anderson, sophomore designated hitter R.J. Brown and senior second baseman Matt Fisher. Fisher put the nail in the coffin for the Anteaters when he closed their seven-run spurt during the eighth inning with his second grand slam of the season.
‘It was great to get our offense back on track,’ Fisher said. ‘There was definitely a sense of urgency going into today’s game because with our bad start, we have to win pretty much every game to stay in the playoff race.’
Not everything went perfectly for the Anteaters, however. In the bottom of the third, junior catcher Jeff Werhun foul-tipped a ball which hit his right eye. A silenced crowd looked on as Jeff fell to the ground, throwing his helmet all the way to the backstop on the way down. Werhun did not return into the game, and he was helped off the field as he covered his face.
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